Author Archive



The Birth of the 501st Legion, Part 3: Let the Wookiee Win

Albin Johnson | September 27, 2012

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The most famous person I’d ever met before starting the Legion was James Irwin, astronaut from the Apollo 15 mission and pilot of the lunar module. You want to talk about a sky-walker? He was the real deal. Even before Star Wars hit, I was nuts about space exploration as a kid and astronauts were like unto demigods.

I remember my father pulling me and my brother out of school in Missouri and piling us into the camper to drive three hours to see Irwin speak. A gentle man with a soft voice, he answered every question patiently.  (Most of the questions were from kids like me wanting to know how you go potty in space.) When it came time to meet him, I couldn’t find the words. He autographed a picture of him waving on the moon and simply said to me, “God bless you, son.”

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The Birth of the 501st Legion Part Two: Trooping in the Jundland Wastes of Fandom

Albin Johnson | September 13, 2012

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Many people wrote me to say they enjoyed the history of the 501st installment I did last month. So I thought I’d pick up on it from time to time and get more of the story out. Few people know just how widely the Legion has woven its saga. It messes with my head sometimes how far a good idea can go if nurtured at _just_ the right time.

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The Birth of the 501st Legion Part One: Studies in Trooping

Albin Johnson | August 17, 2012

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I still remember the smell of popcorn butter. Funny how some things stick with you. It was 1997 and The Empire Strikes Back was premiering in its re-release. To mark the occasion I was squeezing into plastic armor in a back storage room at the local movie theater. That was it. That was the beginning of a long journey as an Imperial Stormtrooper of the 501st Legion, even though I didn’t know it yet.

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The Life Cycle of a Saga

Albin Johnson | August 1, 2012

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With Star Wars Celebration VI just weeks away, it got this fan to thinking. Star Wars turned thirty-five this year. The 501st Legion turns fifteen. I mention the Legion because you write what you know, and the Legion is a ‘child’ of Star Wars so it lends some interesting contrast. It’s been fun watching the Legion grow from nothing and it’s always fascinating to me watch Star Wars evolve during most of my life. As a forty-something with five daughters, one of them sixteen, it made me look at these two entities in a different light.

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Plastic Space Men Need Love Too

Albin Johnson | July 17, 2012

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Greetings, nerf-herders. I thought I’d start with a little intro to the 501st Legion club I started back in 1997. You may ask, ‘what is the 501st’? The formal answer is a worldwide costuming club that dresses in the costumes of the Galactic Empire and associated ‘bad guy’ characters. We’re part of a large fan community that includes the Rebel Legion (name says it all), the Jedi Assembly (again, the name tells you what they dress up as), the R2 Builders, Galactic Academy (costuming kids), Mando Mercs, and many others. But as someone who’s watched the Legion grow from two guys to a zillion worldwide, let me tell you the Legion isn’t so much a club as it is an experience.

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Introducing… Albin Johnson

Albin Johnson | July 16, 2012

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Hello to all my fellow Star Wars fans! My name is Albin Johnson and I’ve been a fan since I was eight years old when I saw it in a grimy theater in 1977. It was such an amazing beacon of hope and adventure that I went back thirty more times! Twenty years later in 1997 I bought a set of Stormtrooper armor and started a website called Detention Block 2551, where I posted pictures of me in armor and hinted at a unit that served Lord Vader personally. In no time other Stormtroopers joined and it quickly grew to become the 501st Legion costuming group, featuring all the bad guys we’ve come to love.

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